Left on the playground

Dear Mrs. K,

I am sorry I was late coming back inside after lunch. I set myself a goal today, you see: I was going to climb all the way around the snow piles. The big, beautiful ones that get made when they clear off the ice rink. I was pretending I was an explorer in Antarctica. I started at a clear spot with my back to the school and I walked to the left.

But you know how hard it can be to walk in snow, especially when you are little and the snow is deep. The wind has made a crust on the deep snow too. When I stepped on it, it crunched open and my boot sank deep into the soft snow underneath. Sometimes the snow got into my boot, and when it melted it hurt my skin. But I kept going! I have read about brave Antarctic explorers and how cold and dangerous their trips can be. So the least I can do is keep climbing when there is cold snow down my leg. One crunchy step after another.


When I got to the far corner of the ice rink, I stopped to take a break. I know explorers in Antarctica have to be careful to maintain their strength. I didn’t have a snack, but I did have the Tree Friend you assigned me last fall. Do you remember that my tree was near the rink? I named her Avon, and I still visit her sometimes, even though that unit is over. Avon is just a little off the edge of the rink, but they were even deeper, crunchier steps. When I was sitting under her I could take a deep breath and listen to the very, very quiet. The smell of snow burned my nose, but it is a good smell. I felt very alone but in a good way, like a brave explorer.

I don’t think I stayed very long with Avon, but when I got back to the Antarctic mountains I noticed it was very quiet by the rink too.  That’s because I was the only one outside. Sometimes when you call us and I want to do one more thing, I miss lining up, and then I have to run to catch the end of the line. I know this makes you mad. But today, I didn’t even see the line. And today, I didn’t hear you call. I promise, I was listening to the quiet. But I didn’t hear you.

So I ran, Mrs. K. It was hard to run, because of how my boots crunched down every time, and the snow got in my legs. I got all sweaty inside my warm coat and under my hat. And I was scared. I know you like for me to pay attention, and I was worried you would think I ignored you on purpose. I thought you might be mad, and maybe even call my parents. They would be mad at me too. So I ran, and I got sweaty, and then when I came inside I pulled off all my outside clothes really fast. I thought about maybe telling a little lie, like I wasn’t feeling well, or Mrs. B called me down to the office. For a minute, I thought about really going to the office, so it wouldn’t be as much of a lie. I didn’t mean to do anything bad, so lying about it wouldn’t be as bad as when you hide something you did on purpose.

But when I came into the classroom, you didn’t say anything to me. I know you saw me, and you must have realized I’d just come inside. I was so late that nobody else in class had pink cheeks or was out of breath like me. I waited for you to write my name on the board and tell me I was going to miss the movie tomorrow. Or to tell me to go sit out in the hall and think about how I could make better choices next time. I hate having to think about that, because a lot of times I don’t understand what choice I made that was bad. But I knew I was probably going to have to do that today.

I don’t know why you didn’t write my name down, Mrs. K. I don’t know if you decided I looked sick or if you guessed I must have been at the principal’s office. Maybe through the window you saw me running and knew how hard I’d tried to come back in fast. Maybe you’re finally changing your mind and deciding I’m a good kid, and that when I’m late or forgetful, it isn’t because I don’t respect you.

I don’t know why my name isn’t on that board, Mrs. K. But thank you. I promise to try to sit still during the movie tomorrow.


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